Program of Brazil-FAO International Cooperation

Countries exchange experiences on regulatory frameworks in school feeding programmes

During the webinar, successful cases from Brazil, Ecuador, and Guatemala were presented.

Brasília, Brazil, March 6, 2024 - Over 80 participants, including school nutrition managers and technicians from various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, delved deeper into the legal frameworks surrounding school feeding programmes during a recent webinar. The event showcased successful cases from Brazil, Ecuador, and Guatemala, shedding light on the importance of these regulations in strengthening policies and advancing the human right to adequate nutrition for millions of students across the region.

Facilitated by the FAO Representation in Ecuador, Colombia, and El Salvador, within the framework of the Food Coalition, and supported by the Sustainable School Feeding Network (RAES), the regional webinar on March 1st served as a platform for exchanging experiences regarding legislation on school feeding and the human right to food in schools. This activity forms part of a series of three webinars addressing topics relevant to school nutrition policy.

The second virtual seminar, scheduled for March 21st and organized by the FAO in collaboration with the government of El Salvador, will focus on public procurement from family farming for school nutrition programmes. The RAES, established by the Government of Brazil through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) and the National Fund for Educational Development (FNDE), with FAO support, works alongside Latin American and Caribbean countries to promote actions and strategies aimed at strengthening school feeding programmes. These include fostering dialogue on governance, facilitating cross-country experience-sharing, capacity building, and information dissemination.

In his opening remarks, Vincenzo Cursio, coordinator of the Food Coalition, underscored the significance of exchanging strategies and experiences as catalysts for collaboration and progress, particularly in addressing concrete challenges within food supply chains to promote structural changes.

Erika Zárate, FAO Programme Officer in Ecuador, emphasized the value of school feeding as a multisectoral policy that can help countries achieve their objectives across various domains. Israel Ríos, FAO Nutrition Officer, highlighted the important role of legal frameworks in ensuring the human right to adequate nutrition, calling for broad commitment to advancing concrete actions.

Imahue Muñoz, international legal consultant at FAO, provided a detailed overview of legislations related to school feeding and nutrition, highlighting key components such as objectives, scope, guiding principles, as well as the incorporation of monitoring and accountability mechanisms, public procurement, and budget allocation. 


The webinar also featured insights from three countries — Brazil, Guatemala, and Ecuador — regarding the execution experience under regulatory frameworks for school feeding. Renata Mainenti from Brazil's National School Feeding Program (PNAE) highlighted the significance of regulatory frameworks in strengthening the country's school nutrition policy, characterized by universality and benefitting over 40 million students in public schools. 

Mainenti emphasized that since 2009, the law mandates at least 30% of PNAE resources to be invested in direct purchases of products from family farming, fostering local territorial development while providing fresh, healthy, and nutritious food to students.

Gabriel Casañas, Subsecretary of School Administration at the Ministry of Education in Ecuador, detailed the country's School Feeding Law and the pivotal role of the inter-institutional school feeding committee in its implementation, facilitating continuous interaction among involved entities and promoting nutrition education actions. Casañas identified opportunities in Ecuador, including the incorporation of territorial suppliers from family farming. He also talked about challenges such as technological and financial limitations affecting the continuous food supply capacity of small-scale farmers.

Regina Sosa, representing Guatemala's Directorate General for Strengthening the Educational Community at the Ministry of Education (Mineduc), highlighted how the implementation of Sustainable Schools methodology has effectively catalyzed the application of the School Feeding Law in Guatemala, thereby strengthening this policy at the national level. Sosa credited the law for significantly contributing to achieving goals such as expanding student coverage to universality. She also underscored the importance of technical assistance and support during the law and regulation drafting process.

Najla Veloso, coordinator of the school feeding project of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation, emphasized the importance of dialogue and cross-country learning, highlighting the role of the Sustainable Schools methodology with its six key components: intersectoral coordination, community participation, adequate and healthy menus, food and nutrition education, infrastructure improvement, and public procurement from family farming. “This methodology has generated technical and policy evidence, strengthening school feeding policy at regional and national levels in each country”.